Earlier this year, LeBron James told NBA TV that the NBA’s “Mount Rushmore” would include Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. Asked if he’d ever make his way onto it, LeBron said, “I’m going to be one of the top four that’s ever played this game, for sure. . . . Somebody’s gotta get bumped.”
This ignited a debate on the NBA’s top four players ever — No Wilt Chamberlain? Bill Russell? Elgin Baylor? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? — but I’m not qualified to say.
What I am qualified to say is this: I would wager that 85 percent of Americans could not name all four presidents carved into the granite face of the actual Mount Rushmore. Sure, Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln might be gimmes, but most natural and naturalized U.S. citizens forget The Other Guy.
(Not to be too blunt about it, but Americans’ strong suit is not American history.)
Anyway — thanks to LeBron — the other night Couch Slouch got to thinking about other Mount Rushmores out there:
Mount Rushmore of philosophers: Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Nietzsche. I hesitate to honor Nietzsche – the man was a real downer. Honorable mention to Sartre, who wouldn’t accept his Nobel Prize in literature in 1964 to protest bourgeois society’s values, and to Socrates, who said, “All I know is that I know nothing.”
Mount Rushmore of baseball stadiums: Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Tiger Stadium (defunct), PNC Park. Yeah, I’m taking the newfangled park in Pittsburgh over either Yankee Stadium. Why? Because I hate sitting next to New York sports fans and because it’s my column.
Mount Rushmore of oceans: Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea. Technically, the Mediterranean is not an ocean, but it acts like an ocean and it’s the cradle of all civilization. P.S. My apologies to the Atlantic Ocean — it just ain’t what it used to be.
Mount Rushmore of fast-food burgers: Fat Burger, Five Guys, Shake Shack, Umami Burger. My friend, the late, great sports columnist Bud Furillo, swore by the quarter pounder with cheese from McDonald’s, one of the few areas in life in which we diverged.
Mount Rushmore of sitcoms: “The Honeymooners,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “All in the Family,” “Seinfeld.” Heck, I just left off 29 of my favorite sitcoms here, so I plan to spend many sleepless nights watching them.
Mount Rushmore of mountain ranges: Himalayas, Swiss Alps, Andes, Blue Ridge. Yes, the Blue Ridge — ah, I can smell the oak-hickory forest from here, and Skyline Drive is a better ride than the Daytona 500. If I were in a comedy mood, the Catskills make this list.
Mount Rushmore of beer: Newcastle Ale, Yuengling, Rolling Rock (pre-Anheuser Busch ownership), PBR in a can. Pabst won its blue ribbon in 1893 and has gotten a little better every year since.
Mount Rushmore of sports owners: Branch Rickey, Bill Veeck, Art Rooney, Jerry Buss. A contemporary anti-Mount Rushmore would be Daniel Snyder, Donald Sterling, James Dolan and Jeffrey Loria.
Mount Rushmore of movies: “His Girl Friday,” “Citizen Kane,” “Casablanca,” “Godfather Part II.” You expected “Caddyshack” to get the nod?
Mount Rushmore of poker players: Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar, Phil Ivey, my first ex-wife. Boy, could that lady play: I couldn’t bluff her and she check-raised me right out of the marriage.
Mount Rushmore of theme parks: Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland California Adventure, Disneyland Paris. I work for ESPN, folks.
Mount Rushmore of late-night TV hosts: Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jon Stewart. What, you thought I was going to chisel Jimmy Kimmel’s mug up there?
Mount Rushmore of cuisine: Chinese, French, Italian. These are the three foundations of all fine food — there is no room for a fourth entry on this monument.
Mount Rushmore itself: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt. Yes, Teddy Roosevelt. I might’ve guessed FDR — he put up big numbers for a long, long time — but, then again, construction on Mount Rushmore started five years before his presidency began.
Q. If I turned on ESPN’s online Tiger Woods channel during the British Open and saw Hunter Mahan instead, would I have grounds for legal action? (Jeff Gorman; Las Vegas)
A. I would’ve loved to watch ESPN’s online Joe Cocker channel during Woodstock in ‘69.
Q. How do you justify paying $1.25 in unreportable cash to the contributors to your column? Isn’t it a violation of journalistic ethics — even for sportswriters — to pay their sources? (John P. Donnelly; Reston, Va.)
A. Please send the $1.25 back from your recent winning question and you get nothing for this one, too.
Q. Would you have had a higher percentage of successful marriages if you had been allowed, after every sentence spoken by the minister, to step off the altar, look at your friends for signals and readjust your cummerbund? (Alan Hlava; Mazeppa, Minn.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!